Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Educational Psychology


Georgiana Shick Tryon

Committee Members

David Rindskopf

Carol Kehr Tittle

Subject Categories

Educational Psychology


This study investigated the relationship between parental physical discipline (PD) and child externalizing behaviors (EB) in the Caribbean subculture and examined whether acculturation to the European American and Caribbean cultures, generational status, normativity of PD, and warmth in the parent-child relationship moderated this relationship. Eighty-nine parents of Caribbean origin answered an anonymous survey consisting of various scales and demographic questions.

Descriptive analyses indicated that parents in this study used PD an average of 10 times during the past year. The majority (69%) reported using at least one PD act in the past year. All forms of more severe PD (e.g., slap on face or head, hit with belt or hard object, pinch) were more prevalent in this sample compared to a national sample, suggesting that they are more culturally approved in the Caribbean subculture. Correlational analyses revealed that PD tended to decrease as children got older. In addition, older parents tended to use less PD. However, the more normative and socially accepted parents perceived PD to be in their culture, the more they used it.

The major finding of this study was that parents' generational status moderated the relationship between PD and EB. A regression analysis demonstrated that the effect of PD on EB varied as a function of generational status. The earlier parents' families came to the United States, the stronger was the relationship between PD and EB. It was the strongest for parents whose great grandparents (or earlier generations) immigrated to this country. For parents who themselves immigrated, PD did not predict EB.

Earlier research conducted with European American families firmly established the relationship between PD and EB. This study, however, showed that this finding could not be generalized to the Caribbean subculture. When factors such as acculturation and generational status were taken into account, PD did not predict EB. As parents' generational status increased, the relationship between PD and EB became stronger, approximating the pattern that was consistently found in European American families. Theoretical and practical implications, as well as directions for further research were discussed in light of the findings.


Digital reproduction from the UMI microform.